by Smt. S. Vishwanathan, *Freelance Writer
The changing economic scenario through out the world has made several developing countries including India to give utmost importance to technical education. India has taken crucial steps to pursue quality in technical education in order to achieve planned growth. Special efforts are being undertaken to inculcate competitiveness and quality in technically qualified human resources to make it globally acceptable. Such type of education will improve the quality of life of the economically weaker sections of society.
Realising the importance of education and to utilise the 500 million odd youth in the country, targets have been fixed in the 11th Five Year Plan. Education will get increased allocation, from 8 percent of the budget to 30 percent paving the way for setting up of more institutions for technical education which will yield more jobs. The Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh said: the plan’s focus is on the most marginalised sections of society. The goal of this five year plan is to invest in our people to enable them to become active participants in economic growth process.
The Union Cabinet has recently, approved setting up of eight Indian Institutes of Technology(IIT) in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and at Indore in Madhya Pradesh at a total cost of Rs.6080 crore (@ Rs.760 crore per IIT). It has also given approval for taking over the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University – a constituent unit of the Banaras Hindu University, a Central University, its conversion into an Indian Institute of Technology and integrating it with the IIT system in the country. With the creation of new IITs, high quality technical education will become accessible to bright students. So far, hardly two per cent of about three lakh students who appear in the joint entrance examination gets admissions in them.
A UN report on world youth says, because of their sheer size, the 1.2 billion youth are an essential and critical part of the development process. The report further says that because of poverty and sometimes because of social and cultural constraints many youth are excluded from decent employment and other resources and services.
In order to give importance to technical education in India, the National Policy of Education and Programme of Action 1986,emphasised the need for revamping this sector. The All India Council For Technical Education (AICTE), has been given statutory powers through an act of parliament to promote qualitative improvement of such education. The council has initiated several measures for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and standards, capacity building, accreditation, funding of priority areas, programmes providing access, equality and quality in the field of technical education. So far, these efforts have yielded desired results. The number of recipients in the recent years has increased manifolds. The total intake capacity in AICTE approved institutions in 2006-07 was about six and a half lakh students in the 1617 undergraduate degree Engineering Institutions.
India’s efforts have been recognised by the signatories of the Washington Accord in this field and they have approved provisional membership to All India Council For Technical Education giving a further boost to India’s efforts. This means more job opportunities for the technically qualified in other countries as well. This also means that India needs to benchmark best practices and build national competitiveness. However, this requires a thorough revamping of the entire technical system with full involvement and empowerment of stakeholders.
Keeping this in mind, a two day conference was held in the capital on Development of Technical Education in India in the month of December last year all the speakers stressed the need to improve quality and accessibility. Technical sessions were held to discuss seven major areas. These include:
· Access, equity and inclusion
· Quality assurance and Washington Accord
· Academic reforms and curriculum framework, credit system and evaluation
· Faculty development
· Industry institute interface including public-private partnership and
· Role of ALCTE in the changing global competitiveness.
Coordinated development of technical education system has proved to be a stepping stone for thousands of young people who had no access to regular education. If this section is left out, as the prime minister said, there will be no overall growth in the country. India has plenty of human resources and to make them globally acceptable a well organised, quality technical education is needed and that is what India is striving for.
Today India is in a position to lead the way for many developing countries. The association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Non-aligned Movement member countries and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations are already making efforts to coordinate with each other in the field of technical education. Some countries have send their manpower to train youth in different vocational fields. India is also taking advantage of this and has sent technically qualified people to other countries to receive training. Besides these groupings, the Gulf Nations have shown interest in getting training from India as hundreds of qualified Indians are working in the region. Education is a priority for India and it will remain so till the last youth in the country is qualified in vocational fields as it will also pave the way for eliminating completely the rural- urban divide. Education for all is the buzz word as India wants to take the people together on the path of growth and development. The concept of inclusive growth will cover the entire country and it will lead to reduction of poverty in the long-run.